This footage came from DWR trail cameras that were used to monitor the den of a GPS collared female black bear during the winter of 2020. The camera was placed on the den following a work up to change out this bear’s GPS collar.
This type of den is called a ground den. The female cleared an opening under a large slash pile (old logging debris) filled with pine straw as her den area. While we mainly see the female and cubs out in the open area, this den had several smaller recessed cavities further back under the slash.
The cubs featured in this footage were approximately 2 weeks old at the time of camera placement. If you listen closely you will hear numerous sounds made by the cubs within the den. The cry or squall sound is common when they are cold or hungry! Black bear cubs do not seem to have a lot of patience and will cry out frequently when they aren’t in a position to nurse on the female.
You can also hear sounds of nursing. This is a “low humming or chugging” type sound. That is a sign of contented cubs getting their bellies full!
You will notice the female is very active! Black bears in Virginia do not truly hibernate although they do produce their cubs in a den and remain there for the first 8 to 12 weeks of the cubs lives.
A female black bear, particularly one who has had cubs, will likely remain at the den unless they feel pressured to leave. For tips on how to avoid disturbing a bear den if you stumble upon one and what to do should a female leave her den, visit our bear den page.